Well, there are at least two reasons:
- There aren’t that many fanatic soccer fans in the United States;
- So we have Black Friday instead.
“But why,” I hear you ask, “don’t the British have Black Friday?” The C.S.O. maintains that most of their energies are dispersed in soccer riots. (The rest go to murder mysteries.) Another possible explanation is that the British don’t have enough money to go commercially crazy the way Americans do:
The third possibility is that the British lack sufficient closet space for all that junk, the “self storage” facility being less common Across the Water. Fourth and finally, they could just be saner than we are, though that would leave us in need of an explanation for the soccer riots.
Whatever the case, it seems our cousins in the U.K. don’t have an after-Thanksgiving retail frenzy. Of course, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving either, but that’s a mere detail.
But wait a moment: America has four wildly popular nationwide professional sporting phenomena, whereas Britain has only soccer and cricket. With twice as many “big time” pro sports and the associated marketing, shouldn’t Americans’ rowdiness be dissipated more effectively than that of the British? This is a research question. (A British friend has counseled me not to discount rugby as a relief valve; he claims it has the highest body count of any pro sport played anywhere. Must make the murder mysteries seem pale by comparison.)
Black Friday was supposedly called that because it was the day where businesses turned their annual ledgers from red ink to black ink, but in the last few years it seems to have morphed into something else. It has been reported for years that the big deals aren’t necessarily really deals at all (2014 study), or that some companies raise their prices in the weeks (months?) before the day so that what would have been a normal, small discount from MSRP suddenly seems like a deal. It’s being reported (2016) that more and more people are carrying their smartphone into the stores to price check things, compare price and availability at other stores, or get coupons. I confess: I’ve done it and not just this time of year.
Once there started to be a perception that good deals came on Black Friday, it was only a matter of time until it became just another way of saying “BIG SALE!” But shoppers like to think they’re getting big deals, and there are stores that put one or two items on a massive discount to get some people to line up the night before. Maybe they can get some buzz on the news. Of course, now that stores are opening on Thanksgiving itself, Friday seems like it loses some drawing power. Regardless, every year there’s some incident where people get violent (2016) over something stupid.
Well, anyway. We’re three days from “official” Black Friday. It’s a time for great nervousness here on Long Island; the increment of traffic does unspeakable things to our roads. The accident figures are frightening, too. So the C.S.O. and I make a point of staying home. It’s an expedient I can heartily recommend. On the other hand, if you simply must get out and about – to take the pulse of the nation, as it were – for my money Becker and Fagen’s prescription remains serviceable:
Unlikely to cost you a lot, too.